March 3, 2022 at 4:00pm
Dane Lisser

New Musicals Workshop: A True Experience – Final Take

Musical theatre majors who decide to embark on their academic journeys to Millikin University are immersed in a variety of hands-on learning opportunities once they arrive on campus, from performances to behind-the-scenes work. Among those opportunities that take place in the early goings of the spring semester is an innovative program that often leads to "real-world" outcomes called the New Musicals Workshop.

Established in 2007, the New Musicals Workshop is exactly how it sounds … it's a workshop for musicals. But it's more than that – it's a collaborative experience. Students work with actual professional writing teams to develop new musicals intended for commercial production.

Millikin's School of Theatre & Dance is one of only a few institutions around the country to have a program such as this, and it's become no secret. The program has been recognized by the Broadway community as an opportunity for established writers to develop new musicals destined for Broadway and beyond.

Over the years, we've recapped some of the latest workshops to get an idea of what the program is all about. However, this past January (2022), we took a new approach to tell the New Musicals Workshop story with a series of "takes" from the faculty, the writers and the students as they see it.

This January, New York writers Brandon James Gwinn, EllaRose Chary, Taylor Ferrera and Matthew Webster were welcomed to campus to work with students on their new musical concepts.

Final Take: The Students

Kevin Kuska is a veteran of the New Musicals Workshop experience. A senior musical theatre major with a dance minor from Pontiac, Ill., Kuska has been involved with the program on four separate occasions.

"The New Musicals Workshop is a time where some of our professors bring in writers … and it's their time to bring in new works they are currently writing or have finished writing, and it's for us to perform for them through a staged reading or a fully-staged production so that they can see what needs to be changed," Kuska said.

Kuska added, "I wouldn't have come back the first time if it was something I didn't love."